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The Best Pizza Dough for Mimi

This picture does not include a picture of my pizza dough.  But it was taken at my favorite pizza place in the world- Vinnie Van Go-Go's in Savannah, GA.

I have toiled in vain to make a homemade crust that is in any way similar to Vinnie's.

I'm not going to say I've done it, because I haven't.  But what I can say is I think this version is the closest I'll ever get.

For 10 years I have played around with basic pizza dough recipes, trying to find one that yields a thin, crispy crust, with bubbly edges.

I think there are two things that make this possible... very high heat (most home ovens can't get hot enough) and 00 Italian flour (it makes such a soft, pliable dough).  To manage the heat problem, I usually cook my pizzas on the grill, and let it heat to at least 600 degrees.  Hopefully one day my husband will build the wood fired pizza oven of my dreams.  And to manage the flour issue, I order my flour from Amazon.

Here's the basic recipe and process:

Cucumber Pico de Gallo

Normally, when I make pico de gallo, I use tomato, red onion, and jalapeño.  This week, the garden is spewing forth dozens of cucumbers, so I'm throwing those in as well.
There really isn't a recipe for pico... you just throw whatever you want in there.  I'll list what I used, but I also won't give amounts.  If you don't groove on onion, use less.  If you don't like cucumbers, don't use them.  Do whatever makes you happy!
Cucumber Pico de Gallo
6 lemon cucumbers, diced (I don't seed mine) 6 roma tomatoes, diced (I squish out the jelly stuff so the mixture doesn't get too soupy) 1 small red onion, minced 1 small jalapeño, minced Fresh lime juice Red wine vinegar Olive oil Salt
Mix everything up and let it sit at least 30 minutes before you attack it.  If you have the willpower... I never do!

Pasta in the Instant Pot

Continuing my streak of amazing suppers in my Instant Pot, tonight I offer you pasta!

So I read several different recipes for spaghetti in the Instant Pot.  They seemed fairly formulaic, and most used jarred pasta sauce (which I never have around).

So armed with some ratios, canned tomatoes and penne, I set out to make supper.

Was this perfect?  No.  Was it good? Yes. Will I do it differently next time? Yes (but I never really do anything the same way twice).

For the sake of posterity, I will call this recipe 3 Cheese Mushroom Pasta.

3 Cheese Mushroom Pasta

1/2 box of penne pasta (you could also use regular spaghetti noodles, I just didn't have any)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
8 large cremini mushrooms, sliced
28oz (2 14.5oz cans) fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 cups water or broth
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs basil
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella
1/4 cup finely shredded asiago or Roma…

Instant Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

Instant Pot recipes are everywhere!  You can't open your Facebook page without reading 10 posts about this appliance.

I jumped on that bandwagon about a year ago when my husband bought me an Instant Pot for my birthday.

Before recently, I used the pot to make ribs, or baked potatoes, or the occasional butter chicken.

Recently, I purchased a new one with a yogurt button, and I have rekindled my romance with the instant pot.

This meal was my first attempt at pot-in-pot cooking, or PIP for hardcore "potheads."

There are lots of dishes and accessories you can use for PIP cooking, but I don't own any of those yet, so I did the best with what I had on hand.  The meal turned out beautifully!

Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

Make sure the silicone liner is in the lid of your instant pot. (I learned that the hard way).  Take the liner out of your pot and put it in your work area.  I have found that this cuts down on the chance that food falls down between the liner and the heati…

Ribs!

My local grocery store had ribs on sale this morning. Plus I had a coupon for $2.00 off!  So tonight, we had ribs. 
I used my instant pot to cook them, then finished them in a 400 degree oven. 
Ribs:
1 rack St. Louis style ribs- I used pre-dry rubbed 1 can of beer- I used Apricot Blonde 1/2 cup of whiskey 1/2 cup water 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon onion powder 1/4 cup molasses Bbq sauce- apply after cooking
Put everything but the ribs and beer in a mason jar and shake it up well. 
Put the ribs in the liner pot. Wind them around so they fit nicely. Pour the beer over the ribs. Then pour the whiskey over them. 
Put the liner in the instant pot, close the lid and cook on manual for 30 minutes.  When the timer goes off, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When the oven has pre-heated, release the pressure.  
Put the ribs on a greased cookie sheet. Brush with Bbq sauce and cook 15 to 20 minutes. 

Chicken Stuffed Poblano Peppers

This meal is a perfect example of how I tend to cook.

According to my husband, I am a digital hoarder- and I've come to believe he's right.

I have thousands of things pinned on Pinterest- the vast majority of these pins are food related. I could cook a recipe a day until the day I die, and I still wouldn't get through all those pins.

Most afternoons I come home from school and take off my shoes. Then I grab my iPad and head to the couch to peruse my Pinterest boards to find an idea for supper.

Because my garden is producing a plethora of poblano peppers right now, I've been collecting recipes to use up our bumper crop. Today, I found a recipe for stuffed peppers- and I had all the ingredients!  So I jumped up, closed my iPad, ran to the kitchen, and did what I wanted to do. And it was pretty much entirely different from the recipe. Because... Creativity!

Chicken Stuffed Poblano Peppers

4 Poblano Peppers
1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1…

Sunday Supper Potato Soup

I love potato soup. It's one of those things you can whip up with only a few ingredients, or you can take it over the top. Tonight I kept it pretty simple.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 clove garlic or use garlic powder
1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1/4 cup cream
4 oz. cream cheese
Salt
Pepper

I started by sautéing the onion and garlic over medium heat until they began to brown. Then I added the potato, salt and pepper. I let it hang out a while, then added the broth. I brought it to an active simmer, and let it go for about 20 minutes. After testing the potatoes to make sure they were done, I tasted it and adjusted the seasoning. Off the heat, I buzzed it up with my immersion blender. I left it a little chunky. Then I put the cream and cream cheese and put the lid on. I let it sit for about 5 minutes to let the cream cheese melt. After a quick stir, I ladled it into bowls and that was that!  If you…

Sunday Dinner- Chicken Country Captain

This dinner is a tradition in our family. My father introduced us to the chicken dish.  It's called Chicken Country Captain. I'm not sure if it's uniquely Southern, but I know it's delicious!

The sides were pretty simple. We steamed the broccoli in the microwave (we started with a bag of frozen broccoli).  The rice was made on the stove. The cheese sauce was a traditional roux-based sauce using havarti, cheddar, and American cheeses.

The corn was a new technique for me. I just put the whole piece of corn, shuck and all, into the microwave and nuked it for 3 minutes per piece of corn. I cut the stalk end off and slipped the ear out.

The chicken recipe is pictured below. We cheated and used already made fried chicken from Publix.






Bonus! Wednesday Kitchen Creativity!

Wednesday supper was all about cleaning out the ice box.  I had odds and ends of things hanging around, and they needed to be gone!

I browned a pound of sweet Italian sausage in a skillet with 2 minced shallots.  I added chopped yellow squash and diced fresh tomatoes.  After the sausage had browned, I added the rest of a bottle of Presseco I had in the ice box (probably around 1/2 cup).  I let it hang out and reduce while I boiled a package of vacuum sealed gnocchi.  This particular batch I bought from Trader Joe's.  When all of the little pillows of goodness floated to the top, I added them with a little of their cooking liquid to the skillet with the sausage mixture.  I finished it by adding some minced fresh herbs (basil and oregano), and little fresh goat cheese.

Tuesday's Creative Adventure- Technology!

Tuesday and Wednesday I was busy facilitating conversations about technology at our district's June Technology Institute.

Technology has become one of my passions, and it was so rewarding to be able to sit with my fellow educators and talk about how technology can enhance our productivity and workflow.

Tuesday morning I sat down with other instructional coaches in our district.  On Wednesday, I sat down with teachers in our district who want to become more familiar with Google Classroom.  I am a huge fan of Google Classroom, and have been using it ever since it came on the scene.

If you are a classroom teacher, or anyone who does professional development, you should definitely check it out!

Today's Creative Adventure!

Well, that didn't take long.  I was going through some old digital recipe files and found my Daddy's wheat bread recipe.  I decided I would attempt to give it an update.  The printed parts were his.  The handwritten parts are mine.  If the batch that's currently rising on the counter turns out well, I'll publish the new version of the recipe.  If it doesn't turn out well,  I'll give it another try.

Fingers crossed...

It's Summer. Now what?

These flowers make me happy.

Summer also makes me happy, but it can be a difficult time.  I am a sedentary person by nature- so given the chance, I will lay around and read all summer.  That might not be all bad, but even for an avid reader like me, it can get boring.

This summer I am taking an extended trip back home to Savannah, GA.  This is a good thing because it will interrupt my normal schedule.  This is also a bad thing because all my favorite foods will be available in abundance.  It will test my recent efforts at eating a more healthy diet.

But even more importantly than these things, I'm feeling a tug towards being more creative.  I would like to make a summer resolution to be creative in some way every day.  That might look like a well put together, healthy meal.  It could also look like a piece of writing (like a vacation journal).  It could even be crocheting or sewing.  I feel like I am fortunate to have this large chunk of time off, and I'd like to use it to …

Southwest Shrimp Salad

I should hire a proof reader.  This picture clearly shows shrimp, not chicken.

In spite of the incorrect label, this was a great salad!

Here's what I used:

Romaine lettuce- chopped
Cucumber- chopped
Tomatoes- chopped
1 can pinto beans- rinsed
Frozen corn- defrosted
Red onion- diced finely
1 lime- juiced
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Mix everything up in a big bowl, then top with as many sautéed shrimp as you want!

This Week's Juice...

This week I made strawberry-apple-orange juice. I am enjoying not wasting fruits and veggies anymore!   This week I didn't have any spinach or kale to use, but that's ok. This looks much more appealing than most of my previous juices.

First Spring Project!

Smoked Salmon Spread

So this was my breakfast this morning.  A gluten-free bagel (not because I'm gluten-intolerant, but because I like the texture of them), salmon spread and thinly sliced cucumbers.  Heaven.

I've posted the spread recipe before, but it's really simple:

Salmon Spread:

1 pkg. smoked salmon
1 8 oz. bar of cream cheese
dash of lemon juice/zest
2 scallions, chopped (white and dark green parts)
S/P

Mash everything together and spread on everything!

Smoked Trout and Eggs

Some good friends of ours brought us some fish they had smoked earlier this week.  They gave us a whole smoked brown trout and a whole smoked Kokanee salmon.  I decided to use the trout first, since Devin doesn't really like salmon (I know- crazy, right?).

When I was little, I remember my parents occasionally eating salmon and grits.  I decided to riff on that a little and scramble some eggs and add the smoked trout.

Here's what I used:
I picked the bones out of the trout as best I could, but you never catch them all.  I also used some chopped scallions.  I used the white parts to saute before I added the eggs to the skillet, and I used the green parts as a garnish.  Next time, I will totally throw in some small cubes of cream cheese.

The process was simple.  I added some salted butter to a preheated skillet.  After it melted, I threw in the white part of the scallion and let it soften a bit.  Then I added 4 eggs whisked with salt and sriracha.  When the eggs began to set, I …

Egg Salad

I have loved egg salad for as long as I can remember.  But I'm not a fan of fancy egg salad. The classic is perfect for me. I've been craving it for a while, so I finally gave into the pressure and made some.

I can only make small batches, because Devin hates it. I have to eat it all myself. Darn. It also drives him crazy that I buy already boiled and peeled eggs-he says it's lazy. I say it saves my sanity. I have never been good at boiling or peeling eggs.

Here's my no-frills version!

Egg Salad

4 boiled and peeled eggs
3-4 tbsp. Duke's mayo
1 tbsp. Sweet pickle relish
1 heaping tbsp. Yellow mustard
Salt
Pepper

Chop the eggs and throw everything in a bowl- mix with a fork. Then try not to eat half the bowl while standing at the counter.

Chai French Toast

This morning Devin and I had French Toast for breakfast. I don't make it often, and I'm not sure why.

I made a slightly different version because I've been wanting to experiment more with the flavors in Chai. A little while ago I purchased a jar of Chai Spice from King Arthur Flour, and I've been sneaking it into various recipes.

Here's what I did:

2 tbsp. Salted butter
3 eggs
1 tbsp. Chai Spice Mix
2-3 glugs of heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Sugar
4 slices bread (I used sprouted sourdough)

Heat up your cast iron skillet over medium low heat (on my electric stove I put it on 6).  Let it heat up for a good 5 minutes or so.  While you're standing around waiting, go ahead and get some kind of shallow-sided container to make the egg mixture. I used my trusty Pyrex pie plate that's older than Moses. In the pie plate, mix the 3 eggs, cream, and spices. Whisk together well- until no disgusting slime trails off your whisk. Go ahead and add a piece of bread. Wait…